Governance Readiness Working Group

Hi everyone,

here I am, reporting the next step in the plan for reaching the Governance Readiness status :partying_face:

Current situation

As commented in the previous post, elements in the Question Mapping Exercise were classified according to the sections proposed by CommunityRule. We shared the classification to gather possible mismatches or concerns. No additional feedback has been collected. As a living document, any future comment can also be considered.

We now want to rate the elements of the Question Mapping Exercise. The objective is to prioritize the elements and analyze if we can focus on a subset of them.

Can I help?

Yes! Please give us a hand! We have prepared a poll to collect your input.

Link to the poll

The poll includes three sections to rate the elements of our exercise and a final section for user profiling (which is optional). Answering the poll should not take you more than 5-10 minutes.

Your help will be more than welcome :heart_eyes:

Is there a deadline?

Please answer the poll by Wednesday, May 20th. Thanks!

Next steps

After this action, I think it’s a nice moment to have a meeting and discuss the results + next steps.


Hi @jlcanovas and everyone else. Thank you for the interesting discussion and the major steps forward you already took. I have a question regarding the poll and I hope I didn’t miss something that makes the question redundant.

When I ask myself “How important is each question in the development of OSS projects?” I think it depends on what stage of development process the OSS project already is. For example in the beginning it might not be so important to think about “Which organization structure is the most appropriate?” or “How to deal with membership?” because you might not yet know if your project will attract enough people in the end to have to think about it.

On the other hand questions like “Which license should be applied?” is of major importance in the beginning and might not be relevant in later stages of development - as you have already decided on this.

So, in sum, I think rating “How important is each question in the development of OSS projects?” depends a bit on the stage of development that has been reached already? Don’t know, however, how to get such an evolutionary dimension into the poll : )

(ps and btw: missed to introduce myself: I am Erik from the Free Software Foundation Europe. I was also participating in the session at sustain summit but missed the last meeting (mainly because I could not write down my email on the wall for further notice before it was removed : D )

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Hi @Dreirik! Welcome! Thanks for your feedback.

I understand your concerns, I’ve received similar feedback from other channels. Another issue is the high number of elements per question.

I admit I identified some of these problems and tried to minimize them as much as possible, but it was pretty hard. I could reduce the number of elements for the questions, but I did not find an effective way to address the lack of context (e.g., the “evolutionary dimension,” as you phrase it).

In the end, I decided not to “pollute” the poll with additional classifications and use the same context we had during the meeting at Brussels. I see now that such decision was not optimal :confounded:

Maybe we could (partly) overcome this situation by specifying that the question rating would refer at the early stages of the development. With this, we are aiming at a subset of projects but maybe the most important ones when deploying a first governance model. ¿What do you think?

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Hey Erik, welcome! :wave:

Lately I think about governance Rate of Change in open source. I agree the value of a governance model is better evaluated on situational context. Governance that what works at the beginning might not work ten years later. (Or, work without a lot of friction.) While license decisions are usually one-and-done, governance models or strategies vary in effectiveness over time.

I think this will be a unique challenge for this Working Group to map. How we contextualize these questions in an ongoing evolution instead of a one-and-done approach is important moving forward, I think.

I suggest finishing the current survey distribution. We should acknowledge the biases and caveats of the data; it is not neutral. But right now, it is early feedback for the Working Group to narrow down and focus on specific governance aspects.

Over time, we might discover interesting topics worthy of their own dedicated exploration. This could lead to new working groups, or new explorations in existing Working Groups.

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Hi everyone,

the time to answer the survey ended yesterday. We collected 15 answers. Thanks, everyone, for your help.

I’ll work on a report summarizing the results. Even if the number of answers is not too high, I’m sure the feedback will help to prioritize the elements we had (and maybe also remove some of them).

As planned, I’d like to share the report with you and discuss the results. I’ll contact the working group members (and people who show interest) to find a timeslot and have a meeting.


I second this. Offering the right questions depending on the different stages of the evolution of a project could be a major contribution that this group can bring into successful planning of governance readiness.

I would be interested in working this a bit more out. Some initial ideas:

  • We could differentiate different “starts”: For example a project that begins with less than 5 persons and without monetary compensation in mind (at least in the beginning) might have different governance concepts to think about than a well-funded start-up with more then 20 employees or similar.
  • From these different starts we could define different levels that can be reached during the evolution. Some metrics that come to mind to define these levels are a growing importance (usage / number of installations / critical applications etc.), the growth of “community” (users, contributions, third-party usages etc.), growth of business, growing dependencies etc.

Without having too many details already, a matrix that offers different levels for different starts and the most important questions regarding governance readiness for each level/status would be something abstract but also pretty useful I can imagine.

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This sounds really interesting. To give some food for thoughts, you can see the current question list here. I would also like to invite you to join our next meeting to discuss this proposal in detail.

From my side, I’ve finished the analysis and the report summarizing the poll results. These are the links:

I think it is time to have a second meeting and discuss the working group’s current status. I’ll share a Doodle among the working group members to set the final date/hour. Feel free to contact me if you want to join the meeting.

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Hi everybody,

Independent of this effort (I’m discovering SustainOSS working groups right now), myself and a few colleagues have been working on a draft of an open source governance chapter for The Open Source Way.

It covers a variety of topics including "what is governance, and what are the roles and responsibilities in projects that are typically gated in some way), why explicitly defining governance policies is useful, how projects typically evolve over time to add more policies, and then a number of project governance archetypes.

I would love to hear feedback on it, and as with all TOSW content, it is very liberally licensed, and I would love to hear if any of it could be useful for the SustainOSS governance readiness guide.


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Hi @dneary, welcome!

thanks for the reference. The initiative for the guide looks exciting. I’ve skimmed the chapter and it looks quite complete. I’ll read it carefully asap.

I would like to invite you to our next meeting so you can introduce the work and we can discuss potential actions and collaborations. I’ll send you the meeting details.

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Sounds good! Thank you for the invitation.

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Hi everyone,

thanks for indicating your availability for the meeting, here you are the details.

Second meeting: Thursday, June 4th, 2020 @ 15:00 UTC

For your convenience, some time zone conversions are:

  • California: 08:00 PDT
  • New York: 11:00 EDT
  • London: 16:00 BST
  • Madrid: 17:00 CEST


This is a tentative agenda. Feel free to propose new entries.

  • [5m] Welcome
  • [15-20m] Review of poll results
    • Prioritization results, user profiling, etc.
    • How to enrich our questions with these results?
  • [25-30m] Next (final?) steps
    • Could we create a template to guide developers to define governance models?
    • Could we rely on external tools such as CommunityRule to create these models?
    • How could we consider the development status of the project?
  • [XXm] Open questions

Making the meeting effective

To make the most of the meeting, it would be nice that participants have a look at these things:

  1. To do: Check the 2-pages-long report of the poll results

    Why: It summarizes the results of the last action and may enable further discussion

    Optional: You can also check the full report

  2. To do: Check the updates on the Mapping Exercise. Columns I to P.

    Why: It is the main impact of the previous results in the outcome of this Working Group

  3. To do: Think possible ways to wrap these results in a nice deliverable :slight_smile:

    Why: It will help us to identify the next (final?) action for the working group.

Joining the call

We will use Google Hangouts for the call. I’ll send the details of the event to the confirmed attendees. If you have not participated in the doodle but wanna join, just contact me.

I am looking forward to our next chat!

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This is what I am most interested in. An idea I wanted to pitch was to create a site similar to Except instead of choosing licenses, it would be “choose a governance model” or something else clever. This allows us to leverage the categorization work in the spreadsheet and focus on easier interfaces for people to think about how to organize and govern their software communities.

Thanks for the homework. This is useful for me since I haven’t been able to keep up on the doc work closely.

Me too!

Good example to illustrate what we could reach with the data we have. However, I see that goal a bit far, as we need to properly map the categorization + their answers with specific governance models.

Let’s discuss it tomorrow during the call :yum:

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Oops, just discovered that the time conversions were not right (and not aligned with the timeslot voted in Doodle). Just fixed! Sorry for the inconvenience.

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So sad, I had to miss the call. Hope you had a successful meeting and looking forward to a report.

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Thanks everyone for participating in the second meeting of this Working Group. In the following, you will find the video recording of the call and some summary notes.

Watch the recording




  1. Javier Cánovas
  2. Justin W. Flory
  3. Georgia Bullen
  4. Nathan Schneider
  5. Maggie Cawley
  6. Dave Neary


Review of Poll results

  • @jlcanovas presented a quick review of the Poll result for the three main dimensions surveyed.
  • @jwf asked about the actual meaning of the issue “Accessibility of governance model” in the Barriers and Needs dimension. @georgiamoon clarified that such an issue might be related to the Principles of Authentic Participation, as it refers to the ability of newcomers to enable their participation in the project.

Next steps

  • @jlcanovas first presented the following four possible working lines and opened the room for discussion.
    • Create a template with most-voted elements to help to define explicit governance models
    • Enrich CommunityRule to consider these questions
    • Illustrate most liked elements with real-life examples.
    • Frame questions according to the starting point and development status of the project
  • During the discussion time, these are some ideas that appeared:
    • Leverage on CommunityRule templates to provide guidelines for governance models in open source projects. They can also be used to recommend specific models
    • It would be nice to enable the collaborative definition of the guidelines.
    • Although CommunityRule provides a general approach for governance, it could be easily reused/adapted for software projects.
    • Choosealicense is an excellent example of what we could provide in the working group, but for governance models.
    • As an outcome for the working group, a website (or web-based resource) is much more suitable than a report.
    • There was agreement on working on a prototype website, including the main recommendations/questions/elements explored in this working group.

Action items

  • @jlcanovas: Create a first version of a webpage, which will include a set of recommendations (based on the questions/elements identified) to create governance models. Nathan commented that he can also help with this.
  • @jwf: Technical help to create the repository for the website at SustainOSS
  • Rest of the group: Review the website

Where do we go from here?

I think that deploying and creating the website would be a nice final contribution from this working group. I visualize the site as a two-step workflow where users can (1) check that they have considered most of the questions they need to face to create governance models and (2) draft a first versión of their governance model. This is just an idea for now, but it will be refined in the coming days.

I’ll keep you informed about the advances. Feel free to chip in whenever you want.

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Ey! I’ve just published some notes about the meeting. I hope you can make it next time! :slight_smile:

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Oops forgot to follow-up on this! What is your GitHub account? I will add you to the GitHub organization so you can create a repo. :smile: (FYI: @jdorfman / @RichardLitt)

What do you think of a “governance checklist” that we co-publish as a Guide on the CommunityRule website?

P.S. – thanks for these awesome notes and summaries!

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No problem! My GitHub account is jlcanovas. Adding me to the organization will be more than enough (is there any kind of governance rules to create repos?)

Good point, our checklist could actually be seen as a guide for CommunityRule :smile:

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